I’ve just wrapped up my internship with The Washington Post. My experience has made me think about the added benefits that a job brings. When you have Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a job forces you to find a way to overcome your challenges, helps you to discover your life’s purposes, gives structure to your day, and facilitates interactions with many different people.
If you have a disability like Duchenne, your job can present many difficulties; some of them are hidden physical elements that we don’t often recognize. While working in journalism, I found it hard to access many of the places from which I reported. Traveling can be difficult, and not every venue complies with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.
While every workplace has challenges, solutions also exist. We can choose to look at these obstacles as problem-solving opportunities, which can help with future endeavors. For example, I schedule interviews at locations that are accessible to me and have a co-worker accompany me for long trips so they can assist me in the bathroom, to reach things, and stretch.
Having a job is a lesson in problem-solving and communication. And you can’t solve a problem if you’re unable to communicate with someone who can help you.
Finding a purpose
I’ve learned during my 22 years on Earth that the saddest people are those who lack a clear purpose. My No. 1 purpose is to spread the love of Christ and his redeeming grace. Another of my priorities is to provide information and tell people’s stories. That’s where journalism and writing come in. At the same time, both of these goals intersect to achieve a grander purpose.
If you find something that you love to do and you can earn money doing it, you are already on a better path than most of your fellow humans. Working in a job you like is more satisfying than doing something you dislike just to make lots of money.
Whatever career path you take, whether you are self-employed or work in the corporate world, your job should get you excited to wake up every morning.
Having a job gives structure to my life. I don’t know about others, but I’m much happier when I know what I am supposed to be doing. If I could schedule my days for the rest of my life, I would — but life is unpredictable.
How you prefer to live is up to you, but I believe that having a structure and schedule makes me feel secure and purposeful. It allows me to say, with confidence, “What I am doing now is contributing to my success and fulfilling my purpose.”
A job has more benefits than merely providing an income. It provides me with structure and enables me to build a system for my healthcare. Learning how to be consistent helps me to manage the side effects of taking steroid medications and my activities.
My role as a journalist has helped me to overcome my shyness and self-consciousness about being in a wheelchair. I’ve had to interact with many different kinds of people, which has been helpful when navigating my social circles outside of work.
Even if you don’t pursue a career in journalism, the same idea applies. You need to collaborate with people to be successful at what you do. And a cooperative attitude carries over to personal relationships.
However, finding a job is an entirely different topic. A quick online search will yield plenty of resources to help you to connect. Reach out to your doctor and ask if they know of any services that can help you. You can find a way to work for yourself or someone else while prioritizing your health and without missing the opportunities that are out there.
Note: Muscular Dystrophy News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Muscular Dystrophy News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to muscular dystrophy.